Sunday 2nd September 2018
By Mark Harrington
Venue: METROGAS, Avery Hill Road
Team: Mark Harrington, Frank Pearce, Neil Pearce, Jon Gasson, Joe Champ, Paul Tanton, Steve Shippey, Jason Miller, Dean Murphy, Simon Davies, Allen Fines
Subs: Barry Grainger, Robin Moody, Tom Naughton
So with Love Island over and Strictly and X Factor making the summer a distant memory, footy returned for the Young Vets. The balmy summer was over but would our new Gaffer Marcus Allen be sporting the Southgate waistcoat? Unfortunately not as I am informed by my more sartorial colleagues that they do not make them in that size. So would Marcus be a Jurgen Klopp, with the smile and Dame Edna glasses or carry the Mourinho scowl and shouting “3; respect, respect”? Regrettably the 3 proved to be the magical number on the goals against chart.
It proved to be the case that our only pre-season get together was the curry last Thursday night at the home of the Guild's official restaurant partner and lack of familiarity and not enough fitness was again the key factor in our annual defeat away to Metrogas. We always seem to lose away on the opening day at Metrogas but the same score line had a spooky feel to it and not least because there was not that much of a gap between the sides.
Metrogas always play good football but we could be proud of our own elegant brand of football in the first 45 minutes, which belied the fact we had not seen each other on the pitch for a good few months. We had a few good chances to take the lead but early season sharpness was just not there in front of goal and we paid the ultimate price midway through the half when we did not clear our lines, lost concentration and this let the big target man bring the ball down and smash into the top corner. This lifted our hosts who mounted more attacks but Neil Pearce was calmness personified and showed the benefit of keeping yourself fit during the summer with park runs. Neil was rightly voted man of the match.
Unfortunately, we lost captain Jon Gasson to injury and hope the big man recovers soon. His deputy Robin Moody slotted in at centre back and his perfectly timed tackles and distribution were more plus points.
The half-time break came at the right time as the on-field chat became as hot as the weather and the curry. Nobody seemed to remember that fitness was going to play a part and that in all walks of life, mistakes are inevitable. Marcus quickly quashed such girly moans. I can now see why there are no ladies vets leagues. If there were, we would be champions!
Marcus shuffled the pack to find solutions but having denied their striker on a couple of occasions he finally broke free to side-foot one around me to increase their lead.
Alan had been taking a rest when he returned to prove me right in that there was goal there for him, slotting one past the home keeper. Things looked on the up as we had stopped moaning, pulled one back and the home side lost a player to injury and with no more subs were down to 10 men. This was our chance; however this seemed to make us lose our concentration and allowed their midfielder, aptly named “Creepy” to run unchallenged and fire past my right hand and into the corner. It was a hot day and the lads had put in a shift so whilst there were accusing looks at not tracking back, it is tough in such warm conditions and without any fitness so all is forgiven. If we had equally taken our chances we would not have been in such a position but I remind all we are a vets side, social by nature and so we will never have the fitness at the start but what we lacked in fitness we more than made up with desire and a willingness to play good football. Just less blaming and more encouragement next time please!
There was enough on show to say that the quality of Dean Murphy, Steve Shippey, Simon Davies, Jason Miller and Barry Grainger coupled with the strength of both Pearces, Robin and Jon Gasson plus the finesse of Tant, Alan and Joe will make us win more than we lose. We will soon be able to welcome back from holiday Jez, Damian, James, Justin, Gary Rosslee and Dean Wyatt. Marcus has inherited a strong and no doubt tanned squad.
So a word on the performance of our new leader. Well he matched the same result as last year! In all seriousness, we were organised, committed and he tried his best to play different formations to recover a deficit position. So he was more tinkerman than Jurgen or Jose but he will ensure he outsmarts a number of our opponents going forward.
Lastly, you may wonder if there are to be any new faces? Did we follow the Spurs or “front wheels skids” if you are a labour fan, recruitment policy? I am pleased to advise that in October we look forward to Marcus’s work colleague joining to add to the strike force. Our best signing is without doubt in the buffet dept. Leanne who works behind the club bar will do the post match comestibles after Mrs Redmond retired her bangers and loan signing; Mrs Tanton returned to her parent club. Thanks to all for previously feeding the boys and we look forward to Leanne’s offerings.
Moment of the day has to be given to our opponents' manager who was running the line. As it turned out faster than most on the pitch as some parts of the game resembled walking football at times. He commented that “your right winger is deceptively slow” as he could not believe he could be offside at that pace! Summed up the day nicely and added a bit of humour to sooth warm brows.
Away to Wickham Park next week lads. Onwards and upwards?
Man of the match: Neil Pearce